Palm Springs, CA—Dan Volland, co-founder of Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Foods Markets, passed away on Dec. 17.

Volland was the manager of a small health foods store called Alpha Nutrition, where he met Sandy Gooch. Together, they opened Mrs. Gooch’s in West Los Angeles in 1977 and managed the chain until it was sold to Whole Foods Market in 1993.

In a 1993 WholeFoods Magazine interview, when the store was named Retailer of the Year, Gooch spoke of Volland’s initial look at what would be the first Mrs. Gooch’s retail location: “I can remember him pacing off a line in the store and suggesting where we could put up a wall so that the store wouldn’t be too large—the initial viewpoint was that you had to have a smaller health food store. Eventually we got to the point where we said, ‘Let’s use all the space.’”

Gooch also talked about Volland’s creative bent for designing the layout of their stores, which were known for their aesthetics. “He has had a lot of innovative, original ideas in that area,” Gooch said.

Reflecting on Volland’s death is David Klein, who created the Jelly Belly brand in 1976. He met Volland through his nut distribution business to health food stores, and spoke of him fondly: “He was one of those people who always smiled, and had the best attitude you can possibly imagine….Mrs. Gooch’s wouldn’t have made it without him….He truly believed in the industry.”


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2014 (online 12/20/13)